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Persons with MS and Anonymity on Social Media

Mult Scler Relat Disord; ePub 2018 Sep 19; Eijkholt

Anonymity may not improve happiness of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent study. Therefore, professionals who work with people with MS need to address structural barriers to enable in-person interactions. Researchers analyzed the relationship between honesty, authenticity, anonymity, and happiness in individuals diagnosed with MS, who reported using online social networks. They merged answers of 440 individuals from the Davidson Social Participation Survey with the NARCOMS Enrollment and Update Surveys. Descriptive analysis, T-tests, Pearson correlations, and OLS multivariate regression analysis were conducted. They found:

  • Individuals reported they could be more honest in face-to face interactions than with online contacts, regardless of whether they were anonymous or identifiable.
  • Happiness was associated with higher levels of honesty in in-person interactions.
  • A negative association was found between happiness and honesty for anonymous participants online, and no association between happiness and honesty when using real names.
  • Consistent results emerged for individuals using patient-specific and generic platforms.


Eijkholt. Health, honesty and happiness: Authenticity and anonymity in social media participation of individuals with multiple sclerosis. [Published online ahead of print September 19, 2018]. Mult Scler Relat Disord. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2018.09.020.